Let's put the wheels and steel back together

28 February 2019

ASLEF has urged the Williams Rail Review to recommend putting the ‘wheels and steel’ of Britain’s railways back together – under public ownership.


Mick Whelan, general secretary, was speaking after Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, which owns and manages the UK’s railway infrastructure, said he would not mind if the Williams Report recommends the abolition of Network Rail.


Mick said: ‘We have long argued that the right thing to do – for passengers, staff and taxpayers – is to bring the wheels and the steel back together – to forge a modern, vertically integrated railway, fit for the 21st century – in which the operator is also responsible for the track on which the trains run.


‘But it has to be done under public ownership. Keith Williams said earlier this week that the franchise system has failed. Everyone who works on the railway – a natural monopoly – knows that privatisation hasn’t worked.


‘That’s why it would be utterly wrong if the privatised train operating companies – which let passengers down every day, and take money out of the industry – got their hands on the infrastructure, which is currently in public hands.


‘Opinion polls show that even Conservative-voting commuters, fed up with the high fares the TOCs charge, want to bring every part of our railway back into public ownership. To run it for the benefit of everyone. That’s the way forward.’

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